By Canon S Sebastian Campbell
The air is ripe at this time of year for an act of praise to our great and gracious God for his many blessings showered upon His people, especially within the calendar year. Unfortunately, Bahamians are hopelessly confused with the American thanksgiving and their history of the Pilgrim Fathers. The Bahamas has no thanksgiving festival to be celebrated and mandated by law as do the Americans. It’s wrong to say, “Thanksgiving time”, rather it’s “American Thanksgiving”. We have no Pilgrim Fathers; we are the celebrants of neither ham nor turkey. Let the Americans celebrate their Thanksgiving.
We are not annexed to America. We celebrate “harvest thanksgiving” this time of the year. It’s an age old tradition traced back to the Old Testament. We stand within that tradition of giving God thanks for the fruit of the land and resources of the sea that sustain us all year long.
Israel looked back at the end of each year to give God thanks at their harvest gathering as though to say, “Look what God has done! He has brought us from a mighty long way.” That is the tradition in which we stand at this time of the year. We must confess our sins as a nation for allowing this cultural invasion that robs us from our self-worth and self-esteem as a free and sovereign people.
Let us sing God’s praises within the cultural context God has given us. The Church must also cleanse itself from the importation of foreign imagery within our act of thanksgiving. How ridiculous to say, “He sends the snow in winter…” or “the purple headed mountain…” or “ere the winter storms begin…” et cetera. From such cultural corruption, good Lord deliver us.
Rather let us sing praises for all that God continues to freely give to us: crab, crawfish, mutton, grouper, conch, snappers, onion and tomatoes, sugar cane, pineapple upside down cake, flour cake, benny cake, coconut cake, cassava and potato, peas and grits, okra soup...need I go on?
Within this context we can say, “God is so good…”
To our shame, the average Bahamian child is growing up today without knowledge of things Bahamian but a craving after foreign junk. This is continuously reflected even in the fact that the average Bahamian has little appreciation for his history, our champions, heroes and legends. Things Bahamian far too often are seen as things of no worth. We all too often rally around foreign imports.
Today I send up a chorus of praise also for:
• Our Royal Bahamas Defence Force and the great work it does in defending our waters at such a risk to their own well being.
• Our Royal Bahamas Police Force for valiantly standing between our law-abiding people and the outrageous criminals in our land, especially in New Providence.
• Our Road Traffic Department. I thank God for the magnificent undertaking to radically improve and modernise the system and thus bring us up to date with modern trends. Thank Him for the lovely and tolerant workers in the Road Traffic who serve with a continuous smile in the face of so much stress. They are angelic in executing their work.
• Our teachers, without whom we will be nothing, and their untiring efforts in assisting negligent parents to raise their children, and thus being surrogates to thousands.
• Our heroes in health care delivery. This includes doctors, nurses, technicians, support staff, chaplains et cetera. Without you we are weak and relegated to nothingness. You are answering God’s call upon your lives in an excellent way.
By no means least, we thank God for our political leaders, all of them. We talk awfully bad about them year round. What a disgrace! But through the leadership of successive political leaders the Bahamas has become and remains the envy of the region, indeed, the world. We have some of the best political leaders in the world. Thank God for the founding fathers of an independent Bahamas and heroes of the quiet revolution. Much was sacrifice and the true story has yet to be told.